Working from home: Home office tour

Callie might be the best office mate I’ve ever had.
About two years ago, I moved my home office down into the basement at our house. At the time, I was working from home two (sometimes three) days per week, and sharing a home office with my husband was starting to feel cramped. He was rarely working at the same time as me, but only half the space was mine. The basement has a large finished room that we weren’t using for anything else, so it was up for grabs. I painted my new office, and moved right in. This gave me a dedicated, and somewhat secluded place to work–no more worrying that my early morning call will disturb Ken while he sleeps on the other side of the wall, and less worry about getting interrupted during video calls.

Earlier this year, I started a new job as Product Manager for SentryOne, and work from home full time. This means I spend more (awake) time in my office than any other room in the house. Over the last few months, I’ve spent some more time making my office be someplace I actually look forward to going every day. I finished my last project over the weekend, so I thought I’d take everyone through a guided tour of my home office.

What’s on my desk?

Let’s dive right into the good stuff… Check out my super cool desk:

My desk only stayed this tidy for about 4 hours.

First off, the desk itself is the Jarvis Fully. It’s power up/down so I can sit or stand (I almost always stand), and has a programmable keypad so that I can preset sitting/standing heights for myself. Now, what’s on the desk? Lets go left-to-right:

  • That big wooden box on the left is hiding some plumbing. The joys of being in the basement. On top of that big wooden box is my Sonos Play:5. Sonos makes high-end speakers that stream music directly over wifi–way better than any bluetooth speaker, and keeps me company when I’m home alone.
  • My work laptop is a Surface Book 2. It’s a pretty capable machine, to say the least… When it’s docked, I actually pop the screen off and flip it around. This is so that the screen is closer to me when it’s pointed up to me. I don’t use the keyboard, so it ends up being a much cleaner look to have the screen towards me, and the keyboard away from me.
  • My laptop is on top of a Rain mStand. It’s “just” a laptop stand, but I love it. It’s aluminum, so it’s sturdy and it lifts my laptop just enough to make it easy to read. My Surface Dock tucks in nicely underneath, so that I can get to it if I need to fiddle with connections.
  • Next on the desktop is my Intel NUC. This is my personal machine. It’s nothing fancy–no crazy hardware specs–just a compact little guy that I can use as a backup if necessary.
  • I love my Dell UltraSharp 34″ ultra-wide monitor. This thing has a ton of screen real estate, without the bezel down the middle. I end up doing most of my daily work on this guy. It sits atop a glass & stainless Monoprice monitor stand.
  • If we’re on a meeting, I’m using my Logitech C920 webcam. There’s a newer model, and even a 4k model, but I’m sticking with my trusty 920c for now.
  • My mic for all my calls is my Blue Yeti, on a cheap boom that is wall mounted. I’m a loud typist, so the wall mount reduces noise from that. My only gripe with the Blue Yeti is that when Day-Z barks at the mailman, everyone can hear.
  • Atop a matching stand is an ancient 30″ Apple Cinema Display that I picked up used from Aaron Bertrand (blog|twitter). It’s a great monitor with killer resolution, and it just won’t die. I’m not a fan of Apple’s OS, but their hardware is great.
  • Underneath the Cinema Display is a Surface Keyboard and mouse. I got these a while back, but I end up using my Logitech keyboard and mouse instead. So the Surface ones are tucked under for backup.
  • Underneath my Dell monitor is Queery The T-SQL Rex, my travel dino. (There’s a whole gang of ceramic Dinos in Tech on Twitter.)
  • I also have a little storage tray with smaller compartments in it, all filled with things I might need during the day. Eyeglass cleaner & wipes, candies, and some fidget toys & locks (These two are mega-easy to pick…Read more about locksport). You’ll also notice a phone charging cable & headphone extension, which are mounted to the underside of the shelf. This lets me plug/unplug headphones & phones easily and also keeps my cables managed & clutter free.
  • Speaking of clutter-free, I have a USB Hub mounted to the back of my monitor. My camera, mic, charger, and keyboard/mouse transponder all plug in there, then go on to the docking station from there.
  • Also not pictured is my Google Wifi system–a mesh wireless network that ensures I have screaming fast wireless internet down here in the basement, while the main router is up on the second floor.

What’s under my feet?

Since I’m in the basement, the floor is concrete with tile. That’s hard as heck to stand on, plus it gets darn cold in the winter. There’s three layers of cushy insulation under my feet. First, an exercise mat like you might see in the weight area of the gym, then a cute rug, then a CumulusPRO standing mat. This standing mat is seriously the best thing for my back & knees while standing at my desk all day. I love it.

When you don’t leave your house all day, being able to stand at my desk helps me fight off the feeling of being a lazy sloth all day. It really does make me feel better and more energetic at the end of the day…but this padding under my feet is really important. Standing on the hard floor all day leaves me in pain, and reaching for the ibuprofen.

What’s that pile of crap next to you? What else is over there?

Yea, you were wondering when I would mention that pile of boxes next to me? Well, that’s a bunch of user group swag. SentryOne sponsors my BostonSQL user group, and I pull from it every time I go speak at another event.

I also have my SimpleHuman trash/recycling combo can, my file cabinet, and my wall-mounted space heater (Basement + New England = Cold).

Callie keeps her toys & a bed under that table, but she mostly sleeps on the couch.

My husband is from Maine, so when I had the opportunity to get a trophy moose to hang on my wall, I jumped at the chance. He now holds my backup headphones and some Microsoft LGBTQ bracelets, leftover from my LGBTQ Meetup at PASS Summit.

You never know when you’ll need backup headphones.

What’s behind you?

If you were to jump on a video call with me right now, you’d see this:

In case you didn’t know where I live, I’m in Greatah Bahston.

That door behind me blocks off an ugly storage room. Building that door was my project this past weekend. I’ve been wanting to build that door ever since I moved into this office, but it wasn’t until I was down here full time that I finally spent the time & money to do it. This isn’t a woodworking blog, so I’ll spare the details, but it was fun to design & build.

There’s also my “side table” … which tends to collect junk, but I cleaned up just for you, my dear reader. The table itself is from a local place called The Door Store. It has my R2D2 Fridge (a gift from Jim Donahoe (blog|twitter)), my storage locker that holds my snacks (sorry, this is pretty old, and I can’t find it online anywhere, but you can always buy a full-size locker!)

No. You can’t see the mess in the storage room.

4 Comments

  1. I’m thinking that’s how neat and thought out my 1st home office was 30 years ago. 4 houses and home offices later – I would be embarrassed to take pics of any piece of the mess I call my home office now. It works perfectly but could not be shown or even described. Your my hero Andy.

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